By Lewis Donaldson

On Monday, June 24, The Rotary Club of Gunnedah held their annual changeover at the Courthouse Hotel.

In attendance were members from Rotary Club of Gunnedah West, Darren Swain from Whitehaven and Rotary area governor Kel Walls.

The introduction of the 2024-2025 board was announced on the night with Peter McArthur remaining club president for the year ahead. The board remains the same with Rodger Lucas remaining as vice president and Sarah O’Keefe as secretary.

Club president Peter McArthur spoke of the achievements of Rotary over the past year, highlighting the club’s donation of $26,192 to the local community.

Recipients of Rotary’s generosity includes Gunnedah schools, the Gunnedah Shire Band, Gunnedah Eisteddfod, the Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal and the installation of tables and seating along the riverine walk from Marquis Street to Mullibah Lagoon.

“That’s the beauty about Rotary … we’ve had some wonderful things come through,” Mr McArthur said.

“As a club we should be very proud of what we’ve achieved.”

Peter also spoke on Gunnedah Rotary’s involvement and support within the Gunnedah community.

“We remain very active in our community,” Mr McArthur said.

“I’m thinking of the Riverine recreation area picnic tables improvements, the funds we send to schools, support for other community groups, Rotary exchange, public speaking … the Gunnedah Gallop, assisting the Gunnedah Show at the gates and barbecues throughout the year.”

Outgoing area governor and member of Rotary West, Kel Walls, talked on Rotary’s impact internationally and the organisation’s importance today when considering conflict and tensions globally.

“Rotary certainly continues to make an impact on the world,” Mr Walls said.

“But we still have work to do … hang in there and keep going.”

Since it was founded more than 100 years ago, the Rotary Foundation has spent more than $4 billion on life-saving and sustainable projects around the world.

Some of these projects include training young community leaders in Guatemala, providing clean water to public schools in Lebanon and bridging the health care gap in Mongolia with smartphones.

Awards were also presented on the night to deserving Rotarians. The Dark Horse Award presented to Rodger Lucas recognises someone behind the scenes who “gets things done”.

The President’s Award was presented to Michael Silver, recognising the Rotarian’s accomplishments for the club and willingness to get work completed.

Changes to the running of Rotary were also announced on the evening. As of July 1, the changes include the reshaping of Rotary ‘areas’ across the Pacific. The term ‘area’ will be replaced with ‘communities’.

These changes are part of a pilot of changes called ‘regionalisation’ which Rotary hopes will bring clubs closer together and encourage collaboration in an attempt to reverse years of declining membership.

As part of the change, the clubs will be encouraged to undertake large joint projects that will raise Rotary’s community profile in an attempt to attract new members to the organisation. Rotary members will vote in two years to decide whether to keep the new approach or retain the district system.

The current Rotary area which has 11 clubs and includes Gunnedah, will lose clubs from Moree and Lightning Ridge to other areas. There are currently eight ‘areas’ in the larger ‘district’ – Rotary District 9660 which includes 96 clubs. The number of ‘areas’ will reduce to seven under the pilot programme.

However, the changes from July 1 will mean that Gunnedah becomes part of the Rotary ‘community’ which includes Barraba, Quirindi, Manilla and the five clubs in Tamworth.

The new area will continue to include Narrabri, Wee Waa, Boggabri and Coonabarabran. This will bring the total clubs in Gunnedah’s Rotary ‘community’ to 16.

There will no longer be a Rotary ‘area governor’ – previously Kel Walls from the Rotary Club of Gunnedah West. Instead, the equivalent position is now known as a ‘Rotary Community Leader’ which will be held by John Boag from Tamworth.

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